Long distance relationships -- making it work

So, I have met this wonderful person online. Different country unfortunately. And 2000 miles of ocean does make a bit of a difference I am discovering. The good news is that phone calls seem to be affordable and air tickets are coming down in price. The bad news is that with our schedules the way they are it will be a few months before we get to meet properly.

So… let me throw the questions out there.

What are your experiences?
What are some fun things we can do given the circumstances?
What things are essential before we meet IRL?

Can’t say I know much about internet LDRs, but I know that no relationship works without trust, especially LDRs.

You have to learn to take their word for it. Suspicions and jealousy can cause more harm than anything else, including missing them, growing apart and conflicting schedules.

My 2 year LDR has recently become an SDR, as Irishfella has moved 5 minutes walk away from my flat. I’m a very happy girl.

I was in an LDR with a wonderful man from another country. We visited each other, talked frequently, it was wonderful–until we discovered that his degree wouldn’t transfer here easily and I couldn’t move to him. I’d say that even if it’s early days for you and your SO, you should really think about what you want out of this in the long term and figure out right now if that will be possible. There are things, other than compatibility that could keep you apart.

Now for the happier news–I’m currently with a wonderful man I met online and, although he lived a few states away, he was able to move to me. And we’re very happy together.

I wouldn’t even try it unless I saw togetherness within six months. Otherwise, it’s not really a relationship…it’s just friendship. Or un-Love or something. A relationship (for me, anyway) requires sharing in daily stuff (not sharing via conversation – I’m talking flesh and blood sharing of duties), doing things together, interacting with each other’s friends and family. These things just can’t be done long distance. Too bad everyone can’t just be with the one they love.

My SO and I met on the internet and had a LDR for a year before we were able to make a permanent move. (He moved to me and we live together now!) I live in the US and he lived in England. We met in April 2002 online, started “officially” seeing each other in August 2002, and met for the first time in person when he flew to visit me in December 2002. I spent a month with him in England this summer, and he moved here in July.

While we were LDR, we talked almost every night on IM. We sent lots of emails and called each other as well. It was actually harder to be apart after we had been together in December.

Fun things to do:
– Go out with your (respective) friends and take pictures of the fun to email or snail mail to one another
– Go out to a movie, or rent one, and watch it at the same time. Sometimes it’s just nice to know you are doing something together…apart.
– Got to a concert and mail him a band t-shirt (or tailor this one to your interests and not mine lol)
– Don’t underestimate snail mail. A package or letter always seems to be more fun than an email.

Things to think about: If you meet and hit it off, is it feasable for you to move to him, or him to move to you. In my case, my SO was able to move to me by obtaining a student visa. I wouldn’t have been able to move to him so easily because I am in my last year of school. Also, have a backup plan when you meet. If you really don’t hit it off, it’s good to have a plan of action whether it’s touristy fun stuff or getting on an earlier flight home.

I can’t think of the other things right now. Good luck! I’ll add more if other ideas come to me.

I’ve have two LDR’s - one didnt work out because, cutting a very long story short, we didnt want the same things and weren’t on the same wavelength at all. Now, I doubt we ever were to be honest. I do regret that I stayed unhappy for too long before I broke it off. The good side to it is that we never actually did meet (he dragged his heels on this one) so I never had to deal with intimacy issues after breaking up.

The extra special news is that I met someone else (yayyyy for the Dope!!) and I’ve fallen head over heels in love with him and, thank god, he with me. This is unlike anything I’ve ever felt in my entire 36 years - we are putting plans in place now for him to move to me. I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life - fortunately (or unfortunately) we’re only a few hundred miles apart and can manage to see each other about once a month. We spent a lot of the summer together and, after 2 solid weeks together in the most romantic and stunning place on earth, it was like tearing our hearts out to leave him at the airport and drive away. That’s a killer.

I would say, for now, enjoy your time together. Play games online (Yahoo Pool is our favourite) or set up a Yahoo club for just yourselves… think of it as your home for now. I would say talk every day if you can, text, chat, mail, snail mail, send care parcels… do whatever you can to keep communicating. And meet up sooner rather than later (as soon as you’re ready that is). My BF and I met up 2 weeks after we first talked and it was perfect … the best weekend of my life. If you know this is what you want, go for it.

What you should do before you meet? Have a Plan B… we didn’t, I have to say, but we were so certain it was gonna work out, but I do think its a good idea. Once you meet, you’ll know in your heart of hearts how you feel, so you can change your plans if you want to. Be honest with each other, swap pics (I assume you’ve done this already)… Emo and I talked about anything and everything before we met and didn’t stop talking even after we met (this from two people known for their silence!!!).

Good luck with your relationship… I had been kind of soured against LDR’s to be honest but once I met Emo I knew I had to jump in with both feet and trust him and myself… and now I know true, honest, wonderful happiness and love. I sometimes have to pinch myself to believe I got this lucky!!!

Mr. Armadillo and I were in a long distance relationship for four effing years before we finally were able to move in together. We met online at the beginning of our undergrad education, I was at UC Davis, he was at Georgia Tech. Needless to say, we both felt it was important for us to complete our studies at the institutions we had chosen rather than for one of us to uproot in the middle and cause utter chaos for both of us. So, after he graduated (a month or so before I finished), he moved to California and into my house while I finished my final quarter, and we stayed in Davis through the summer so I could continue working on campus and save a little cash. Then we both moved to another state so he could begin his graduate work.
The biggest thing I could tell you to do is talk. A lot. We had a conversation almost every night either via IM or the phone, even if just for a few minutes before bed. Of course, if one or the other of us had plans, it was no big deal, but communication is the absolute key here. You don’t have normal daily interactions like most couples, you can’t just snuggle on the couch and watch a movie, or lay around on the lawn and read a book together, you can’t really just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. What you can do (practically the only thing you can do) is talk to each other. I almost think this is a benefit of long distance relationships–in my opinion, you develop communication capabilities and habits that many couples never do. You also learn a whole lot about each other.
About the contingency plan, before the first time we met we had that conversation. We both agreed that although we did not really think it likely, if we were to meet and the sparks did not fly, we would talk about it, and we felt that we were close enough that we could treasure a friendship, even if things didn’t work out romantically. Sparks flew :wink:
You said it’ll be a couple months before you’re able to meet properly, due to schedules. That’s not so bad, a few months really isn’t a terribly long time (although I know it can seem like the end of the world), and you’ll get to know each other a whole lot more in the mean time. We typically went three or four months in between visits, and I could handle that. Once, though, it was going to be a long five month stretch in between spring break and the end of summer when the next visit was planned, and towards the end I about went nuts. He bought an emergency ticket and off I went to Georgia :wink:

Thanks everyone. It’s great to read a few of your experiences: very encouraging. And you have given me some food for thought. A few additional details for those interested.

It will probably be Easter next year before we can meet, although Christmas may be possible. In the meantime, we are getting to know one another better. Preferred mode of communication is phone and we do talk well. A couple of hours can disappear really easily. we met through an online dating service – one with a whopping great personality test that filters anyone with a different values set or who will obviously clash. So inasmuch as these things are ever accurate, there is a bit of an additional safety buffer there. We seem to have very similar values, expectations, and goals. There is a large overlap in interests and we have a similar faith and similar level of church involvement. We have exchanged photos (albums actually) and I’m looking forward to the first video.

Long term (assuming we get that far) we have many options – New Zealand and Australia have very close ties and reciprocal work and residency arrangements and we could choose to live in either country. Not that those decisions will be easy: just that we won’t be hamstrung by lack of choice. That is way down the track though. The priority now is to build the relationship as solidly as we can. On the list of things to do is:
Go out with friends and a video camera and post the results
Read the same book and talk about it
Jointly work on a project to send Christmas parcels to kids in the third world.
Send stuff to each other.
As well as regular phone calls and emails.

I am keen for some more creative ideas if anyone has any. Talking is fine, but I think it is important for us to do some things together.

Thanks for the ideas on the contingency plan. I hadn’t given it much thought. Not that I think that there will be a need, but to have a safe way to create some space may lessen the pressure when we do meet.

I see some positives in the LDR thing in that it forces us to be creative, ask deeper questions and develop communication properly. But it is clear that we are getting to know about one another in a different order from face to face relationships. And it is easy to (even unintentionally) hide stuff from one another. Hence a smidgen of caution. I appreciate all the advice posted.

Good luck, first of all.

galen ubal and I met online in August, 2002. Starting ‘talking’, had our first phone call a few weeks later. Met in person - me flying from Australia to the US - in February 2003. He flew down here recently. We’ve met each other’s families and so on.

Words of warning: this is a tough way to run a relationship. At this distance, there’s a lot of time apart. Communications are limited by time differences. It gets harder after the first visit, because then you really start to miss them. It hurts that you only get a month, six weeks together a year - at least, that’s what we get, you might be different depending on what you can afford in the way of airfares and how much time you can get off work to travel.

It’s tough. Don’t get into it if you can’t do it. But, of course, you don’t really know that until you try…

On the other hand, though, I disagree with Kalhoun - or, more accurately, since it’s a matter of personality and personal preference and beliefs and so on, I operate differently to him. You can have a real relationship, even at this distance. You can be involved in the little things in life. Lots of phone calls, emails, and so on. Lots of thought. We talk in depth about things, about the silly things that wander across our mind, about the little things that go on. Good communications.

That’s different in text or on the phone than face to face, by the way. Be prepared for that.

As to the ‘hiding things’…most people do. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes bad. Even in face to face relationships, it takes time to discover all the nooks and crannies in the other person’s mind and heart - goddess knows galen ubal can still surprise me sometimes (in a good way). A lot of the time the ‘hiding’ is no more than letting discoveries happen in their natural time, same as would happen in ftf relationship.

Other times…yeah, it’s easier to be dishonest online. It’s easier to hide what you consider to be flaws. Some of that’s natural too, to think that if they find out such-and-such about you, they won’t like/love you any more. You’d have to deal with it in a ftf relationship, you’ll have to deal with it here.

Be honest. Talk as freely as you can. Be ready for rough times, and talk 'em out with all the honesty and compassion you can muster - sometimes you’ll be wrong, sometimes they’ll be wrong, and often it’ll be a little from column A, a little from column B. Support each other when distance seems too far - it will, sometimes.

Have a B plan when you’re finally in a position to meet - I had alternatives when I went to the US, just in case it didn’t work out. That’s not a lack of faith, that’s practicality.

Speaking of which, when you’ve met and you’ve got a handle on things, start thinking about who moves where, and where you go after first meeting - it makes the separation easier to stand if you know it’s going somewhere.

I hope it works for you. It may not - but then again, it just might.

Oh one piece of advice (given to me and Emo by another LDR person)… once you’ve had the first visit and you are sure he’s the one for you, plan the next visit and set a date as soon as possible after. Emo and I have found it really gives us a focus instead of thinking about some ephemeral time in the future. We have generally managed to book a flight the day after we get back from seeing each other. Fortunately we’re close enough to see each other once a month or so… but saying that, its still very very very difficult to walk away in the airport … be prepared for the pain of that. And it gets more and more painful the more you do… on the positive side, I think that really means you are meant to be together!

I will have to third (or fifth) the communication thing. The superhero and I met online (were part of the same online community) for several months before we got interested in each other. After that, we IM’d every day and began to talk on the phone twice a week. After we met in person, we knew we were mutually into each other. So we did everything we could to see each other once a month at least. I think the longest we went during the 1.5 years I was in CA and he was in CO was 2 months. It was very important to both of us to have set plans in the works for the next time we’d get to see each other. But in between, we talked on the phone nearly every day, we IM’d, sent letters, sent packages. We developed a great relationship based on communication and trust.

When I moved to Denver, he was still in a smaller city to the northeast of here. We did this on purpose: so I would be able to create a life for myself that did not revolve solely around him, and also to see if we could make a 1000-mile difference relationship work when the difference was 50 miles. It did. He moved in with me in July and everything is great. But we still communicate as well as we ever did, and I think it has made for a really solid relationship once we DID transfer to living together.

So: communication, trust, and have a plan. Don’t say “someday.” Before you get too entrenched, figure out if you will ever be able to live at least in the same city/state. If not, or if you know you will never get to see each other while you are long distance, you will have to decide if it’s worth it to put that much into something that will probably end badly. However, it sounds like living in the same place in a foreseeable length of time is possible for you and your person.

Also, a caveat. I was warned by many people before I moved here (and had also seen it in LD couples transitioning to living together) to watch things a little. It’s one thing to have utter bliss for the days or weeks you do get to spend with each other. It’s another thing to see the reality of who your person is EVERY DAY: all the habits and interests and patterns. Just because that person seems perfect when you get to spend your small amount of time together doesn’t mean that person will be that way once you live together. I’m glad we lived apart for a while when I first moved here.

I wish you best of luck and good times!